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Broncos-Ravens: What we learned Thursday

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos ran their NFL-best regular-season winning streak to 12 in dominant fashion Thursday, taking down the Baltimore Ravens 49-27 in game highlighted by seven Peyton Manning touchdown passes and a defense better than advertised.

The Baltimore Ravens go back to the drawing board to reassess the damage leaving Denver. The immediate reaction Thursday was that even veteran Ed Reed, who left in free agency, might not have made much of a difference against the hot-handed Manning.

It was the most points ever allowed by the Ravens and the most lopsided opening-week loss by a reigning Super Bowl champion.

What the Ravens said

"We made a number of mistakes," head coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought our guys played hard, the effort was good. Peyton (Manning) made some nice throws, obviously, there were some nice throws and catches that were tremendously executed. We're better. We can play better."

What the Broncos said

"It's incredible," head coach John Fox said. "The guy was incredible a year ago. To sit out a whole year (with a neck injury), come to a new city, all new teammates, a very unusual type injury. I don't know where he finished, but it was up there. This was pretty phenomenal, seven touchdown passes."

What we learned Thursday at Mile High:

1. The Ravens defense remains in transition after the post Super Bowl retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis and the departure of such stalwarts as safety Ed Reed. Denver's 49 points were the most scored against the Ravens in team history, surpassing the 46 by New England on Oct. 6, 1996.

2. Much was made about the diffusion of offensive weapons around Joe Flacco. The Ravens traded away Anquan Boldin to San Francisco during the offseason and the team lost Jacoby Jones (knee) to injury in the second quarter against Denver. But the loss that may have the most impact is sure-handed tight end Dennis Pitta, who is out for the year with a hip injury. Replacements Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark had multiple drops Thursday.

3. Now starting his second season in Denver, Peyton Manning has taken his comfort level with his surroundings to new heights. Manning has defied critics and let his play put to rest any nagging concerns about continuing his career after a yearlong rehab of neck problemst.

4. The Broncos defense passed its first test without two of its top players. Cornerback Champ Bailey sat out with a foot sprain and pass rushing linebacker Von Miller began serving his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Chris Harris had a key interception playing in place of Bailey and Shaun Phillips, playing in place of Miller, helped give the Broncos an effective pass rush with 2.5 of the team's four sacks.
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